Tectonics of Anisotropic Material Properties


So Einstein was wrong when he said, "God does not play dice." Consideration of black holes suggests, not only that God does play dice, but that he sometimes confuses us by throwing them where they can't be seen.

Nature of Space and Time

Stephen Hawking and Roger Penrose, p. 26

anisotropic |anˌīsəˈtrōpik, -ˈträpik|

adjective Physics

(of an object or substance) having a physical property that has a different value when measured in different directions. A simple example is wood, which is stronger along the grain than across it.

Course Statement

Steel and glass; the two isotropic materials dominated the building construction of the post WWII era and defined the tectonics of modern architecture. This is a no coincidence as isotropic-ness lends itself to the quantifiable and predictable material behavior,

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minimizing the risk inherent in the design and construction of an architectural scale object.

However, none of the predominant construction materials prior to the modern era were isotropic. Wood, masonry, concrete all possess anisotropic (orthotropic) property. Tectonic characteristics of the earlier buildings rose out of and developed through the necessity to compensate and in some cases, take advantage of these less predictable material behavior.

This seminar focuses on the tectonic characteristics of the building and their historical development through the lens of anisotropic material properties. Our research goal is to gain insight into how the visual intention and the material execution are reconciled through the design and construction process, informing the tectonics of the building as a whole. We will also speculate on how the recent technological development in digital fabrication and scripting can influence the tectonic potential of these materials.